Five teenagers from Anambra state in Southeastern Nigeria have won the prestigious Silicon Valley Technovation World Pitch Award for developing an app called FD-Detector.
Without prior knowledge in using computers nor coding, “Named Team Save-A-Soul — Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo and Vivian Okoye — spent five months researching and building the app” , which helps users identify fake drugs using a drug’s barcode to verify its authenticity and expiration date. They hope could be a solution to the widespread sale of counterfeit drugs in Nigeria, CNN has reported. Their beat contestants from China, US, Spain, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.
Some of the girls and their mentors have been thrilled by their achievement. “I feel very excited and relieved. I’m extremely proud of myself,” Osita, 15, told CNN from San Francisco. Osita lost her brother from fake drugs and hope FD-Detector will help other impoverished families from detecting fake drugs and save lives. ‘People are calling us celebrities and taking pictures with us. I’m very happy. We could not have done this without our mentor. She really believed in us and encouraged us,’ said Nnalue.
A survey by Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistic (NBS) in 2018 found that 95% of Nigerians do not have access to a personal computer. Because of the limited access to computers, organisations like Edufun Technik, owned by Uchenna Ugwu, are teaching STEM to poor children across the country. Uchenna who is also the mentor of the Save-A-Soul told CNN that her “organization has taught approximately 4,800 school children since 2014 — over 60% of whom have been young girls — as a means of closing the widening gender gap in STEM education”.
‘I’m overwhelmed. It was a beautiful experience for them. They have experienced so many firsts. They were entering a flight for the first time. The girls were scared and overwhelmed. They asked me “How can we compete with these countries who have been using tech for a very long time?” Uchenna told CNN.
‘I told them “it’s not how long ago you started, but how well you do.” I’m so proud of them because they were so determined to learn,’ Uchenna said. ‘They were not the most talented in the coding class but they were the most determined. They stuck with the classes when a lot of their peers dropped out,’ she added.
Ugwu, a mother-of three, said they practiced their pitch endlessly, and it was their effort and passion that helped them win.
The girls are celebrity they extraordinarily achievement and newfound fame.